Problems of South East Asia -3


  • Racial Riots-

The 1964 July racial riots in Singapore is considered to be one of the worst incidents in the history of Singapore as this riot killed 22 people and caused 454 to suffer severe injuries. This riot occurred during the procession to celebrate Mawlid where twenty-five thousand Malay had gathered at the Padang. Besides the recital of some prayers and engagement in some religious activities, a series of fiery speeches was also made by the organisers instigating racial tensions. During the procession, clashes occurred between the Malays and the Chinese which eventually led to a riot spreading to other areas. The racial riot plays a pivotal role in shaping Singapore’s future policies which centred on the principles of multiracial and multiculturalism.

  • Over population-

Overpopulation is regarded as one of the main characteristics of poverty. The world population has passed the four billion mark. Nearly 30 per cent of the total world population lives in the fourteen countries of South-east Asia. India, of course, tops the list with its 625 million, but its population growth rate, which fell to 1.94 per cent in 1978, is the lowest in the region except for that of Singapore. None the less, India’s population continues to increase by thirteen million (almost equal to Australia’s population) every year.

  • Food shortage

Economists tend to disagree on the problem of food shortage. The pessimists- who believe in Malthus’s theory that population, when unchecked, increases in a geometrical ratio and subsistence increases only in an arithmetical ratio- predict that there will always be a shortage of food for an increasing number of hungry people. The way things are going, they do not think that poverty will ever be overcome. The remedy they suggest, in their desperation, is based on the notion of ‘triage’- the battlefield policies of a military hospital – which is to treat only those with a good chance of recovery, and allow the rest to die. The situation does not look as desperate as the pessimists make out. In some countries of southern Asia food production has outpaced population growth.

The Green Revolution is the name given to concentrated efforts to increase productivity with greater use of improved seeds, fertilisers, pesticides and technical assistance. The dire need for such intensive agriculture programme cannot be overemphasised, for in Southern Asian between two-third and three-quarters of labour force agriculture, but agriculture output accounts for only about one-third of the average gross national product. The Green Revolution first began in India and later spread to other Southern Asia.

  • Refugee Crisis-

The growing Southeast Asian refugee crisis largely involving Myanmar’s persecuted Rohingya minority has strong similarities with the humanitarian disaster at Europe’s doorstep. Refugee destinations, such as Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia and the regional bloc the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to face up to the challenge, as the European Union finally appears to be doing with its crisis. At first sight, the Southeast Asian situation appears to be under control: both the origin and intended destinations of the refugees are in the same region, and the main countries concerned are all members of ASEAN. Recent studies indicate that thousands of refugees Myanmar and Bangladesh, predominantly seeking improved economic opportunities, are adrift in the Andaman Sea and the Straits of Malacca due to denial of passage by several countries. This follows the earlier discovery of mass graves of refugees on the Thailand-Malaysia border tied to human trafficking by transnational criminal networks. The increase in the number of refugees is the result of the ongoing persecution of the Rohingya, who are denied Burmese citizenship, and regularly subjected to violence at the hands of the military. It is alleged that not less than 25,000 people had left the Bay of Bengal in the first quarter of 2015, double the number in the same period of 2013 and 2014.

  • Conclusion-

All the colonial systems which functioned in this part of the Asian continent exhibited two common features. First, all followed, in the greater or smaller measure, the policy of cautious conservatism, which in effect revived traditionalism and set in motion certain anti-national and anti-secular force, which not only affected the process of independence, but also the pace of integration and modernization in South and South-east Asia. Secondly all colonial powers displayed a sense of racial superiority which caused among the subject Asians as emotional reaction against a western rule which seem alien, exclusive and h the subject Asians as emotional reaction against a western rule which seem alien, exclusive and hypocritical. Through the influence of the imperialist, at the time of independence South and South-east Asia stood somewhat differently, conditioned by the differences in their colonial legacy.